Posts Tagged ‘Federal government’

Is It Time To Put A Fork In The BATFE?

Watch the video below too.  In this case, felony murder rules would not likely apply because there was no intent. It sounds more like "Project Gunwalker" was a disasterous plan from the beginning that worked out, not surprisingly, disasterously. – Ilene 

Courtesy of Karl Denninger, The Market Ticker 

I’ve been following the Project Gunwalker story for a while.

For those who are not familiar with it, the story line is this: The BATFE, that’s right – the Federal Government - has been intentionally allowing "straw sales" of rifles and pistols to go through and then letting those guns be transported to Mexico.

These are sales where the person doing the buying isn’t the actual intended owner of the weapon.  These guns are often bought in bulk, many at a time.  It’s not illegal to buy a lot of guns, even all at once, but it is a felony to buy them for someone else.

Anyway, BATFE was allegedly allowing this to go on and approving sales they knew were bogus.  Starting in 2009 several gun stores started getting suspicious – they were having people come in and paying with cash – sometimes with cash in paper bags – for multiple guns at once.  Specifically, it is alleged that over five hundred AK-47 semi-automatic rifles and over 2,500 weapons in total, including rifles and pistols, were purchased in this manner.

The claim is made that the BATFE literally watched the sales happen, each checked through NICS’ "background check", each approved, despite being alerted by the gun store owners that the sales were suspicious. 

The stores were told to proceed with the sales intentionally.

Let me repeat this: The allegation is that the BATFE intentionally allowed these weapons to be purchased despite knowing they were fraudulent straw purchases and then allowed them to be unlawfully transported into Mexico where they were delivered to various Mexican outlaws – including drug gangs.

Remember, we’ve been told that a lot of guns that Mexican drug lords are using are coming from the US?  Well, no kidding, they are, if this allegation is correct: Our own government was knowingly allowing them to be purchased and illegally transported across the border.

That’s bad.

What’s worse is this:

Then, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered. The serial numbers on the two assault rifles found at the scene matched two rifles ATF watched Jaime Avila buy in Phoenix nearly a year before. Officials won’t answer whether the bullet that killed


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Geithner’s Crimes Through AIG – Will The Truth Come Out

Courtesy of The Daily Bail 

Geithner’s Crimes Through AIG – Will The Truth Come Out

Video – Max Keiser & Stacy Herbert

At issue is Tim Geithner’s criminal behavior in orchestrating the AIG bailout to favor Goldman Sachs through counterparty payouts at par, and then the massive cover-up.

Further reading…


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One Sided Policies

One Sided Policies

Courtesy of Mish 

Here is an email from Robert who is wondering about the Fed’s ability to inflate, and the consequences if they try. Robert writes …

Hello Mish,

Something is bothering me.

I thought there would be inflation after the US government and FED’s actions, but there has been no inflation. I was wrong and you were right. I understand why and I also agree with the concepts of "peak credit" and "peak consumption," as far as the West goes at least.

But this seems to mean that the government can sell vast quantities (1 -2 trillion per year) of debt directly to the FED and to other parties with few observable short or intermediate term consequences.

If everyone agrees that the economies of the West will be weak for many years (for a host of reasons) and everyone also agrees that the dollar will be the reserve currency for years to come then:

1) What is the problem with running 1.5 trillion dollar deficits per year as far out as the eye can see? ( I am not being facetious.)

2) What is the problem with using federal-government borrowed money to bail out state and local governments to keep them from near implosion and the likely associated social problems?

If I am missing something, what is it?

Robert

Fed’s Primary Mission Failed

Hello Robert

First off, congratulations for understanding the Fed’s attempt at producing inflation has failed. Many do not see it that way, but it depends on the definition of inflation, and an understanding of what the Fed is really attempting to do.

The Fed’s primary goal is not to get prices to rise (regardless of what they say), but rather to get banks lending, consumers spending, and businesses hiring. The Fed and Congress have failed on all three scores.

One Sided Policies

The Fed did not produce inflation, but there is a huge price to pay to pay for the Fed’s One sided policies.

  • The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
  • When the rich make a mistake they get bailed out.
  • When the poor make a mistake they get tossed to the dogs.

One needs to look at things not just from the recent "stabilization" of banks, but as an ongoing affair that has killed the middle class. Inflation was running rampant (in terms of credit…
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Fannie and Freddie As Local Government Money Laundering Bailout Machine

Jr. Deputy Accountant makes an interesting observation: "The federal government, through Fannie and Freddie, is on the hook for property taxes on foreclosed homes? Isn’t that basically a municipality bailout the roundabout way using federal funds sunk into crap properties that probably should never have been built in the first place?"  

This can be looked at two unsatisfactory ways.  One, the federal government is largely responsible for the housing bubble, so why shouldn’t it be bailing out municipalities?  On the other hand, it is really taxpayers who get stuck paying, and many taxpayers were not responsible for either the government’s failures or the mistakes and unethical behavior of the local homebuyers who bought houses they couldn’t afford, and the real estate industry which aided and abetted the bad decisions with lies and deceptive practices. – Ilene 

Fannie and Freddie As Local Government Money Laundering Bailout Machine

WSJ had an interesting piece today about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac quickly becoming the country’s two largest home sellers, which shouldn’t be too surprising since there are FHA bailouts to handle and obviously way too much inventory just lying around unused. But that wasn’t the interesting part, this is:

Once they take homes back, Fannie and Freddie must not only cover the utility bills and property taxes, but they are also relying on thousands of real-estate agents and contractors to rehabilitate homes, mow lawns and clean pools. Fannie took a $13 billion charge during the second quarter just on carrying costs for its properties.

Wait a second… The federal government, through Fannie and Freddie, is on the hook for property taxes on foreclosed homes? Isn’t that basically a municipality bailout the roundabout way using federal funds sunk into crap properties that probably should never have been built in the first place? And why the f*ck are they paying utility bills on bankrupt and vacant properties? Let the new owners hook that shit up, idiots.

In gangster-ridden Chicago, Fannie might try a different method to get foreclosed homes to at least bring in some kind of cash by renting. Call me crazy but doesn’t that mean the government is still on the hook for property taxes? Maybe Fannie is a different sort of landlord than the one I rent from but I can’t say I’ve ever heard of a renter having to cover property tax (at…
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Marc Faber: Relax, This Will Hurt A Lot

Marc Faber: Relax, This Will Hurt A Lot

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

Marc Faber closed out this week’s Agora Financial Symposium with a speech that pretty much recapitulated the view that the end of the world is if not nigh, then surely tremendous dislocations to the existing socio-political and economic landscape are about to take place (with some very dire consequences for the US). His conclusive remarks pretty much summarize his sentiment best: "We’ve had a trend for most of the past 200 years: GDP of countries like China and India went down while the West surged. That’s now changed. Emerging economies will go up, and your children in the West will have a lower standard of living than you did. Absolutely. We won’t sink to the bottom of the sea. But other countries will grow much faster than us. The world is very competitive, and the odds are stacked against us. Americans, with their inborn arrogance, will not let it go that easily, so there will be lots of tension going forward." While long-time fans of Faber will not be surprised by the gloom and doom (not much boom) here, anyone else who still holds a glimmer of hope that at the end of the day the CNBC spin may be right, is advised to steer clear of Faber’s most recent thoughts.

And while we do not have the full presentation yet, the salient points have been recreated below courtesy of the Motley Fool. For those who desire a far more in depth presentation from the inimitable Mr. Faber, we direct you to his June 2008 capstone presentation: "Where is the boom, and the doom" – link here.

On reality: My views are not all that negative. I think they’re just realistic. I want to face reality. You have people like Paul Krugman who thinks we should have another bubble to pull us out of this. He actually said that. But he said the same thing in 2001. And you know how that turned out.

On unintended consequences: The Fed doesn’t seem to have learned anything at all from its mistakes. Their current policy of cutting rates to zero is designed to create sustainable growth, but they’ve created larger and larger volatility in markets. There are many unintended consequences of their actions.

The oil bubble of 2008 is a good example. In 2008, the price…
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TLP: If You Time Your Shopping Right, You Can Get Those Appetizer Samples

TLP: If You Time Your Shopping Right, You Can Get Those Appetizer Samples

Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant 

government purchasing

Here’s a project for the federal government that cost-conscious consumers have figured out how to manage without any prodding other than from their own budgets: get a Costco or Sam’s Club membership.

The Washington Post:

Agencies will be encouraged to use "blanket purchase agreements," getting savings for taxpayers by banding together to buy things in bulk, purchasing officials said at a hearing of the Senate’s subcommittee on contracting oversight.

Under new acquisition guidelines, government purchasing officials have established 12 new acquisition procedures that will apply to every agency. They could save about $200 million in the next four years, according to officials at the Office of Management and Budget.

The federal government spends more than $500 billion a year buying goods and services. With that kind of purchasing power, said Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.), the subcommittee’s ranking Republican, "you expect to get a break and get the best bang for your dollar. The federal government should be receiving the best prices in the marketplace, but unfortunately that’s rarely the case," he said.

Daniel Gordon, head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said the handling of interagency contracts has improved, but he agreed with some of the criticism leveled by lawmakers. "We have much more work to do in terms of leveraging the government’s buying power," he said.

A study released in April by the Government Accountability Office found little oversight and accountability on about $60 billion worth of interagency contracts that many agencies use.

The auditors raised concerns about duplication, noting that "many of the same vendors provided similar products and services on multiple contracts." They said that the problem led to cost increases for "both the vendor and the government" and resulted in "missed opportunities to leverage the government’s buying power." 

Can it really matter if the drones at HUD have the same desks and file cabinets as their counterparts at Interior or Defense? And everybody loves a good deal on Post-It Notes. 


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How White-Collar Criminals Exploit Your Vanity – Beware of Compliments

Career criminal, master charmer Sam E. writes about his speaking engagement in Portland, where we met and I gathered material for part II of the No Redemption. The most fascinating aspect of Sam’s story is what his admissions teach us about human nature. But on a more practical level, understanding fraud and the techniques used to commit white collar crimes can give investors insight into the integrity of the companies they invest in. Companies built on fraud tend to implode under the weight of their own lies, eventually – can we find these companies early, before their business comes crashing down?  (Stay tuned for part III) – Ilene 

How White-Collar Criminals Exploit Your Vanity – Beware of Compliments

By Sam Antar of White Collar Fraud 

Artwork by Marta Dahlig

Last Friday, I was the key note speaker at the Oregon Health Care Fraud Working Group Training Seminar, sponsored by the United State Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon. I explained to the group that while emphasis on effective oversight and internal controls are important factors in preventing or deterring white-collar crime, not enough emphasis is given to the underlying psychology used by white-collar criminals to prey on their victims and effectively commit their crimes.

I have said many times that, "White-collar criminals consider your humanity as a weakness to be exploited in the execution of their crimes" and as the cold-blooded and ruthless criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie, I learned that you can steal far more with a smile than you can with a gun.

White-collar criminals use a combination of charm and deceit to achieve their objectives. The more likable and charming that I was as a criminal, the easier it was for me to successfully lie to my victims…
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The Root of the Housing Bubble Remains Unchanged

Introduction, courtesy of Michael Panzner of Financial Armageddon‘Who Benefits?’

It’s not often that I highlight material from the same blog more than once over the course of a few days or weeks. But then again, there are not too many commentators who are as thoughtful and insightful as Charles Hugh Smith, author of Survival+ and publisher of Of Two Minds blog, a long-time favorite of mine. Last time around, he gave us a no-holds barred assessment of the so-called recovery. In "The Root of the Housing Bubble Remains Unchanged," he suggests, among other things, that for many people, there’s little to gain — and lots to lose — from pursuing the traditional American dream.

The Root of the Housing Bubble Remains Unchanged

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith

Banks and Wall Street profited immensely from millions of unqualified home buyers reaching out for the simulacrum of middle class "ownership."

The fundamental root of the housing bubble--the collusion of the Central State and banks to extend home ownership to millions of citizens who did not qualify for that burden-- remains firmly in place.

The Federal government continues to pour tens of billions of dollars into this "home ownership should be for everyone" project via subsidies to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA. Mortgage lenders have been delighted to write mortgages in our completely nationalized market in which the government backs literally 99% of all mortgages and the Federal Reserve bought $1.2 trillion in mortgages that no sane private investor would touch.

Fannie Mae seeks $8.4 billion from government after loss: Fannie Mae, the largest U.S. residential mortgage funds provider, on Monday asked the government for an additional $8.4 billion after the company lost $13.1 billion in the first quarter. 

Because of current trends in housing and financial markets, Fannie Mae expects to continue having a net worth deficit in future periods and to need to tap more funding from the Treasury.

"Promoting sustainable homeownership and maintaining ready access to liquidity are our guiding principles in serving the residential markets," said Michael Williams, the firm’s chief executive.

The government has relied heavily on both companies, which buy mortgages from lenders to stimulate more lending, to stabilize the housing market.

In other words, the housing market would collapse without this massive Federal support, and there is no end to the losses this subsidy will require. Propping up the…
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Pfizer Caught Illegally Marketing Bextra, Feds Won’t Prosecute Because “Pfizer Too Big To Nail”

More twilight zone material: progress from the Pinto case stalled at the mercy of the "Too Big To Fail" doctrine. Undoubtedly backed by the misguided "rational human economic model."  In the Pinto case, punitive damages were awarded to prevent future corporate decisions to measure cost/benefits by putting a price tag on tag on human life….   Ilene

pinto Before the Ford experts left Washington to return to drafting tables in Dearborn they did one other thing. They managed to informally reach an agreement with the major public servants who would be making auto safety decisions. This agreement was that "cost-benefit" would be an acceptable mode of analysis by Detroit and its new regulators. And, as we shall see, cost-benefit analysis quickly became the basis of Ford’s argument against safer car design.

Cost-benefit analysis was used only occasionally in government until President Kennedy appointed Ford Motor Company president Robert McNamara to be Secretary of Defense. McNamara, originally an accountant, preached cost-benefit with all the force of a Biblical zealot. Stated in its simplest terms, cost-benefit analysis says that if the cost is greater than the benefit, the project is not worth it—no matter what the benefit. Examine the cost of every action, decision, contract part or change, the doctrine says, then carefully evaluate the benefits (in dollars) to be certain that they exceed the cost before you begin a program or—and this is the crucial part for our story—pass a regulation.

As a management tool in a business in which profits matter over everything else, cost-benefit analysis makes a certain amount of sense. Serious problems come, however, when public officials who ought to have more than corporate profits at heart apply cost-benefit analysis to every conceivable decision. The inevitable result is that they must place a dollar value on human life.

Ever wonder what your life is worth in dollars? Perhaps $10 million? Ford has a better idea: $200,000.  [Pinto Madness, Mother Jones, Oct. 1977]

Pfizer Caught Illegally Marketing Bextra, Feds Won’t Prosecute Because "Pfizer Too Big To Nail"

Courtesy of Mish

CNN Health has an interesting article detailing illegal marketing practices at Pfizer. However, government officials looked the other way because …
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America’s Commodity Crisis – 2010 Edition

America’s Commodity Crisis – 2010 Edition 

By Phil 

Commodities are a TAX.  They are the worst kind of tax because they flatly (not progressively) charge every man woman and child in this country more money for the same food, fuel, shelter and clothing that they had to have last week in order to live.  It doesn’t matter if those people are trying to save or trying to tighten their belts or trying to get out of debt – high commodity prices are a shake-down that rips money out of the pockets of the middle class and funnels it to the very, very small class of commodity producers, commodity speculators and the people who finance them and collect the fees.

Over 99% of the people in this country do not own mines or oil wells (and I’m not counting small farmers because they are literally raped by speculators and bankers, often leaving them worse-off than the consumers) or huge plantations and they do not buy futures contracts on margin with cash they borrow at prime plus 0.5% nor do they own tankers filled with 2M barrels of crude that they arbitrage along the crack spread, looking for an opportune moment to deliver their goods (hopefully during a crisis) at a maximum profit. 

So 99% of the people in this country don’t even own a commodity ETF – they have no way to profit from high commodity prices and they need to eat, and they need to buy clothing and have shelter and they need fuel to heat or cool their homes and go from place to place.  There is a word for people like that, at the bottom end of a transaction they have no control over – VICTIMS! 

The American people are the victims of a $2.5Tn commodity scam - 50 times bigger than the Madoff scandal, pretty much one Madoff PER WEEK yet they sit there and take it because those same commodity pushers are major advertisers in the media – so there are no stories about it and the commodity pushers are massive campaign contributors with armies of lobbyists so our Government does nothing about it other than show up to parties and go on junkets.  In fact, do you know who the single largest hoarder of oil was in the last decade?  It was the US Government as George the Second purchased 240


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Phil's Favorites

Chart o' the Day: Unemployment Plunges

 

Chart o’ the Day: Unemployment Plunges

Courtesy of 

The guys at Bespoke Investment Group ask the question “Is this as good as it gets?” regarding the unemployment rate in this past week’s November Non-Farm Payrolls. It’s the lowest level for the indicator in 9 years.

They note that what went on economically, immediately following that August 2007 print, was not especially fun.

One dimension worth considering is the fact that Labor Force Participation is still much lower than is typical at this stage in an expansion. Wage growth, while good, is...



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Zero Hedge

All Eyes On Monte Paschi, Whose Bailout Is Now In Doubt, And Italian Bank Sector Contagion

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

As we noted last night, when we previewed the virtually assured "No" vote, we said that "a strong “No” vote will cause Prime Minister Renzi to resign, leading to political instability in Italy. Furthermore, a "No" vote is expected to kill a long-running attempt to rescue Italy's third largest and oldest bank, Monte dei Paschi, which has been desperate for a private sector bailout ever since it failed this summer's ECB stress test to...



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ValueWalk

Myth 5.4: Negative Growth Rates Forever? Impossible!

By Aswath Damodaran. Originally published at ValueWalk.

As you peruse discounted cash flow valuations, it is striking how infrequently you see projections of negative growth into the future, even for companies where the trend lines in revenues and earnings have been anything but positive. Furthermore, you almost never see a terminal value calculation, where the analyst assumes a negative growth rate in perpetuity. In fact, when you bring up the possibility, the first reaction that you get is that it is impossible to estimate terminal value with a negative growth rate. In this post, I will present evidence that negative growth is neither uncommon nor unnatural and that the best course, from a value perspective, for some firms is to shrink rather than grow.

]]> Get The Timeless Reading eBook in PDF

Get the entire 10-part s...



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Market News

Breaking News And Best Of The Web

Courtesy of John Rubino.

OPEC agrees to cut output. Oil jumps, stocks rise, gold falls. The political focus shifts to upcoming Italian, French and Austrian elections, all of which could go against the establishment. India’s war on cash may turn into war on gold. Political class still searching for an explanation (see “Best of the Web”). Trump’s cabinet takes shape, with mostly old and a few new faces.  

Best Of The Web

Trump, bonds, peripheries, China and Italy – Credit Bubble Bulletin

A new look – NYSE margin debt and the market – Financial ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Stock/Bond Ratio back at 2007 highs, different results this time?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Below looks at the S&P 500/Govt Bond (TLT) Ratio over the past 12-years

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

The S&P 500/TLT ratio is now back at 2007 levels. Double Top or Breakout Time.

Do find this interesting at this time, bullish sentiment on $TLT now stand around the 10% level, which happens to be the same level it was in mid 2007!

Different this time???  Always fun friends!!!

...

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Members' Corner

ItalExit? A Catch 22?

Courtesy of Nattering Naybob.

Over at Philstockworld... High Finance for Real People - Fun and Profits... 

Pharm - There is an Italian Referendum on staying in the EU in 2 weeks. Wonder how that will work out?

The referendum has nothing to do with leaving the EU, that's what the MSM wants everyone to think. The ubiquitous "they" are trying to confuse and scare the Italians with a line of BS.

StJL - Probably not well Pharm! Although the procedure to get out of Europe would be a lot more complicated for Italy because they are also using the Euro. At this point, probably nothing more than leverag...

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Chart School

Semiconductors Hit Hard

Courtesy of Declan.

Internet troubles have limited me tonight, but the one chart I want to show is the near 5% loss in the Semiconductor Index.  Having escaped relatively unscathed from recent day's selling it was a whirlwind of action for the index today.


This had obvious consequences on the Nasdaq. The Nasdaq did relatively well to suffer just over a 1% loss.  However, there were 'sell' triggers for On-Balance-Volume and Directional Index. There was also an acceleration in the relative underperformance of the index to the S&P. ...

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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of November 28th, 2016

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Digital Currencies

Largest US Bitcoin Exchange Is "Extremely Concerned" With IRS Crackdown Targeting Its Users

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Last Thursday we reported that in a startling development seeking to breach the privacy veil of users of America's largest bitcoin exchange, the IRS filed court papers seeking a judicial order to serve a so-called “John Doe” summons on the San Francisco-based Bitcoin platform Coinbase.

The government’s request is part of a bitcoin tax-evasion probe, and se...



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Mapping The Market

The Most Overlooked Trait of Investing Success

Via Jean-Luc

Good article on investing success:

The Most Overlooked Trait of Investing Success

By Morgan Housel

There is a reason no Berkshire Hathaway investor chides Buffett when the company has a bad quarter. It’s because Buffett has so thoroughly convinced his investors that it’s pointless to try to navigate around 90-day intervals. He’s done that by writing incredibly lucid letters to investors for the last 50 years, communicating in easy-to-understand language at annual meetings, and speaking on TV in ways that someone with no investing experience can grasp.

Yes, Buffett runs an amazing investment company. But he also runs an amazing investor company. One of the most underappreciated part of his s...



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Biotech

Epizyme - A Waiting Game

Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Epizyme was founded in 2007, and trying to create drugs to treat patient's cancer by focusing on genetically-linked differences between normal and cancer cells. Cancer areas of focus include leukemia, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and breast cancer.  One of the Epizme cofounders, H. Robert Horvitz, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2002 for "discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death."

Before discussing the drug targets of Epizyme, understanding epigenetics is crucial to comprehend the company's goals.  

Genetic components are the DNA sequences that are 'inherited.'  Some of these genes are stronger than others in their expression (e.g., eye color).  Yet, some genes turn on or off due to external factors (environmental), and it is und...



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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: Harlan is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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Promotions

PSW is more than just stock talk!

 

We know you love coming here for our Stocks & Options education, strategy and trade ideas, and for Phil's daily commentary which you can't live without, but there's more!

PhilStockWorld.com features the most important and most interesting news items from around the web, all day, every day!

News: If you missed it, you can probably find it in our Market News section. We sift through piles of news so you don't have to.   

If you are looking for non-mainstream, provocatively-narrated news and opinion pieces which promise to make you think -- we feature Zero Hedge, ...



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